David Berger | An Olympic Hero

David Berger was a Cleveland born and raised athlete who immigrated to Israel in 1970. A weightlifter, David won a place on the Israeli 1972 Olympic Team. It was David’s dream to compete in the Olympics but that dream soon turned dark as Palestinian terrorists invaded the Olympic Village in Munich and held David and the 10 other members of the Israeli team hostage.

For more than 16 hours the hostage situation dragged on, all of it broadcast internationally on ABC TV. In the end, the Israeli team members, including David, were killed in a battle to rescue them. The world was horrified. The event remains one of the great tragedies in Olympic history.

David’s life and death, however, came to symbolize the courage of athletes everywhere. In 1980, a National Memorial was erected to honor David on the grounds of Cleveland’s Jewish Community Center. With the help of David’s family, The Western Reserve Historical Society made a concerted effort to collect items related to David’s life. Among those items were David’s Parade Uniform, cap and yarmulke. Those artifacts are currently on loan to the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum, scheduled to open this July 30. The lent artifacts and David’s story have been given a prominent place of honor in the new museum.